Enormously entertaining, inventive and visually spectacular, The Lego Batman Movie demands to be seen on the big screen. I can whole-heartedly recommend it; having, along with the rest of Australia’s reviewers, been ludicrously embargoed on reviewing it until six weeks after the rest of the world, I’m probably preaching to the converted. At this point, if you live in Australia, you’ve either been waiting for Lego Batman – delayed interminably to achieve a school holiday release, which must make sense from an economic standpoint – or you couldn’t care less about it.
The script has lavish fun referencing the Batman mythology from go to woe, and the deeper you are enmeshed in that universe, the more fun you’ll have. Whether its retroactively creating an origin story for the cartoon “POWS!” and “WHAMS!” that appeared in speech bubbles during the 1960s live action television series, running backwards through all the big-screen portrayals of the character with reference to the appropriate aspect ratios and film stock, or casting Billy Dean Williams as the voice of Two-Face, this is a film that knows, and loves, its Batman.
The production design and animation is incredible. Sunlight glints off Batman’s cowl in a dusk scene that pretty much made my jaw drop in its beauty (and I was watching lego pieces talking to each other). There are visual gags, puns and references in every millimetre of the frame. If you’re a true die-hard, you’ll watch the film again, when it comes out on VOD, on your huge screen with the sound off, just to appreciate everything that’s going on everywhere all the time.
As Batman, Will Arnett has, rather incredibly, not only made Batman his own (or made his own Batman), its a totally credible one. Batman’s rapid, snippy way of speaking – including interrupting others a lot – goes against previous portrayals but is wonderfully funny and oddly appropriate. One critic I respect has said this is simply his favourite Batman movie – and he wrote a book about Batman.
It’s all geared towards Batnerds first, kids (a distant) second. I’m fine with that. They probably didn’t need to hold it until the school holidays in Australia. The big box office numbers it will inevitably post will be swelled by plenty an adult, smiling into the popcorn with every biff, bam and pow! A delight.